Monday, February 02, 2009

Today or tomorrow...

Growing Up with Tamales / Los tamales de Ana (Piñata Books, 2008) by Gwendolyn Zepeda. 32 pp. Illustrated by April Ward. Bilingual (English-Spanish) ed. ISBN-978-1-55885-493-2, $15.95.

Quinito, Day and Night / Quinito, día y noche (Children’s Book Press, 2008) by Ina Cumpiano. 32 pp. Illustrated by José Ramírez. Bilingual (English-Spanish) ed. ISBN-978-0-89239-226-1, $16.95.

Book review by Daniel Olivas

Some children desperately desire to be older so that they can do and know more things. Others seem to revel in the “here and now” while appreciating those who are at different stages of development. Two new picture books invite us into the worlds of these two types of children.

In Growing Up with Tamales / Los tamales de Ana, Zepeda introduces us to six-year-old Ana whose family makes tamales each year for Christmas. Ana proudly announces that she is old enough to “mix the dough, which is made of cornmeal.” But her sister Lidia is eight which means that she “gets to spread the dough on the corn husk leaves.” Ana says: “I wish I was eight, so that my hands would be big enough to spread the dough just right—not too thick and not too thin.” With each page, Ana imagines what she would be able to do if she were older, always looking to her sister’s two-year head start as a seemingly unreachable goal. While the making of tamales is certainly a traditional activity, Ana’s ever-expanding view of her future is anything but traditional or limiting. Finally, when Ana imagines what she would be doing at age eighteen, she offers a rather funny though sweet option for her older sister. Ward’s illustrations are rich, deeply colorful and inviting. Her renditions of tamales are nothing short of mouthwatering.

Cumpiano’s Quinito, Day and Night / Quinito, día y noche brings us the boy of the title who is the middle of three children. Quinito begins by telling us that “[e]very morning, my little sister Clara wakes up early. My big brother Juan wakes up late.” And what about Quinito? He’s on his own individual schedule: “I don’t wake up early or late. I wake up at just the right time.” He then goes on to compare himself in different ways to his family members. For example, his Mami is short while his Papi is tall. But Quinito is “just the right size.” He makes other comparisons having to do with such things as age, neatness, athletic abilities, and the like. In the end, he announces: “Awake or asleep, I’m just me, Quinito. Goodnight!” Cumpiano’s story celebrates the great variety one can find in a family while also allowing children to make comparisons between such opposites as day and night, early and late, short and tall, fast and slow. Ramírez, the illustrator, is a teacher in the Los Angeles School District and the father of three children. His illustrations consist of dark outlines that frame bright colors which combine in a way that is reminiscent of stained glass.

[This piece first appeared in the MultiCultural Review.]

◙ NEWS FROM DANIEL ALARCÓN: The next installment of El Barco is online at Etiqueta Negra here.


The CSRC announces to release the second book in the A Ver: Revisioning Art History series. Yolanda M. López, written by Karen Mary Davalos, documents the life and work of an artist who has produced some of the most iconic and widely circulated images of the Chicano civil rights movement. In López’s art, the political message is clear and purposeful. At the same time, the work cannot be mistaken for art that merely illustrates a position, both because of its formal complexity and because it is engaged in a more complicated project of repositioning the viewer with respect to language and representation. Indeed, as Davalos argues, “López is simultaneously a feminist artist, a conceptual artist, a political artist, and a portraitist working in and against the modernist tradition.” As the first major publication on López, this book explores the artist’s ongoing commitment to an art of social protest, elaborates the social and cultural history and intellectual currents within which she has worked, and brings much-needed attention to the artist in all her complexity. Yolanda M. López, volume 2 in CSRC’s A Ver: Revisioning Art History series, can be ordered online from the distributor, University of Minnesota Press.


Book Presentation and Signing: The CSRC, the UCLA Migration Studies Group, and the UCLA Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles will host a presentation of The Latino Education Crisis: The Consequences of Failed Social Policies, by Patricia Gándara, professor of education at UCLA, and Frances Contreras, assistant professor of education at the University of Washington. The event will take place on Wednesday, February 18, 2:00–4:00 p.m., in the CSRC Library (144 Haines Hall). Rubén Hernández Leon, assistant professor of sociology at UCLA, will be the discussant for this “Authors Meet Critic” session. The Latino Education Crisis, which was published by Harvard University Press, draws on extensive demographic data and case studies to reveal the depth of the education crisis that looms for Latino students, the nation’s largest and most rapidly growing minority group. A book signing and reception will follow the presentation, and books will be available for purchase. Parking is available in structure 2 and can be purchased for $9.00 at the kiosk located at Westholme Ave. and Hilgard Ave.


Processing is nearly complete on the following collections: the Rigoberto González Papers, the Isaac Artenstein Papers, and The Church of the Epiphany Chicano Civil Rights Archive. These collections will be ready for publication on the Online Archive of California in mid-February.

To learn more about the UCLA CSRC, visit its website or drop an email. Trouble reading this? Please visit the web version. UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center • 193 Haines Hall • Box 951544 • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1544 Campus Mail Code: 154403 • Tel: (310) 825-2363 • Fax: (310) 206-1784.

◙ That’s all for this week. So, in the meantime, enjoy the intervening posts from mis compadres y comadres here on La Bloga. And remember: ¡Lea un libro!

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